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Fans of Downton Abbey and 12 Years a Slave alike will swoon over this period drama, one hand clutching a Kleenex and the other clenched in a fist of solidarity. Belle (a luminous Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate daughter of a slave and a Royal Navy captain, is sent to live with her father's aristocratic uncle in rural England. Raised in relative isolation as one of their own, we meet up with Belle as she embarks upon the drama of Victorian-era matchmaking—a process made complicated by tensions over her skin color. Eventually Belle finds herself with two suitors: a handsome if pompous aristocrat whose family is more attracted to Belle's generous inheritance than to the girl herself, and humble lawyer John Davinier, who’s engaged in a passionate legal crusade to abolish slavery. Belle’s cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) is trying  to find a match of her own, and with her boy-craziness, she serves as an excellent foil for Belle's shrewd maturity. Based on a true story, Amma Asante’s film is a serious exploration of race, gender and civil rights, but the Jane Austen clothing means there's enough fan-fluttering drama to please the period-romance crowd.

Special Note

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  • Running Time:
  • Release Date: Monday, April 28, 2014
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Critic's Score: A
  • Watch the trailer

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  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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